Council takes cautious approach to water restrictions

With two consecutive years of severe drought and an average-to-dry spring predicted, the Auckland region is not out of the woods yet. Photo Watercare

Auckland Council has resolved to maintain residential water restrictions for the time being and, from October 12, to slightly adjust restrictions on outdoor water use by businesses.

Mayor Phil Goff said good progress has been made, with Aucklanders saving up to 40 million litres of water a day, and Watercare is on track to boost supply by another 40 million litres a day by December.

“I want to acknowledge Aucklanders’ efforts to conserve water and the work by Council and Watercare to increase water supply capacity,” Goff said.

“We have secured consents to take more water from the Waikato River, which is now providing up to an additional 25 million litres a day. With the construction of new water treatment facilities at Tuakau, that will increase by a further 50 million litres a day by mid-2021.

“We are also on track to draw another 15 million litres a day from bores, an aquifer and the new Hays Creek water treatment plant due for completion in December.

“However, with two consecutive years of severe drought and an average-to-dry spring predicted, we are not out of the woods yet. The council is therefore taking a conservative approach to adjusting water restrictions.”

Restrictions on businesses will change slightly from October 12 with commercial water users able to use outdoor hoses that are equipped with a handheld trigger nozzle. Commercial car washes will also be allowed to operate; however, the ban on the use of fire hydrants for outdoor construction will continue.

“These changes will limit the economic costs mandatory restrictions have placed on businesses such as nurseries and water blasting contractors that, like many businesses, are also under pressure due to Covid-19,” Goff said.

“We will monitor carefully what impact the adjustment to commercial restrictions has on demand, but it is expected to be relatively small.

“Any decision on lifting restrictions on outdoor residential use of water, such as using hoses, will be deferred until December, when we will have a clearer idea of whether dam levels have further recovered and more reliable summer weather forecasts.”